Date:Tuesday January 23 2007
Is Mark Hughes` hand being forced in the transfer market this January?
Hughes has completed the signings of two new players, David Dunn and Stephen Warnock this January but both seem to have materialised on the back of adverse issues that Hughes has little control over.
Granted Dunn appears to have been a long-term target but just days after the bad news about Steven Reid`s injury and the intense interest in Dunn from Bolton, and Rovers had hurried through the signing.
The same could be said for the signing of Warnock. He too has been on Hughes` wish-list since the summer but it has taken the departure of Neill for Hughes to do business.
Now does this suggest these are players to fill a void or are they the quality signings that Rovers need in order to move forward? Would we have signed either of them if Neill had stayed and Reid wasn`t injured?
I think the answer would be yes, they would have been signed and they are here to add to the squad.
Warnock has looked like a solid player whenever I have seen him and he is highly rated by many among us who believe that he has the quality to take the club forward. My view is that you don`t play for Liverpool and train with England if you are distinctly average. He will give us a natural balance on the left that Neill couldn`t and is a far greater option than Michael Gray whose lack of pace has caught us out at times.
Additionally Warnock has a winning mentality having played for Liverpool and battled back from two broken legs when he was still a youngster. This is the kind of mentality that Hughes aims to distil in his troops and for that reason Warnock should settle in well.
With the addition of Warnock to the squad, Rovers` options on the left side of defence look a lot more solid, especially when considering recent performances from James McEveley. Neill has done well there this season but his tendency to move onto his right foot and drift in has sometimes left Rovers exposed. Warnock won`t do that, nor will McEveley.
As for the Dunn situation, well it is easy to see how he can improve the squad and why he was brought in. However, he does pose a risk in so far as he has an unfortunate record of serious injuries. The Rovers fan isn`t match fit yet and probably won`t feature until the Chelsea match at the best but when he does return he will provide competition for places and something different that only Tugay is currently capable of.
The concern amongst some of the Rovers faithful is that these signings are knee-jerk reactions and there is a case for that, but these are two players who have quality and can improve the balance, options and ability of the squad.
It will be interesting to see if there is a direct response to the absence of Andre Ooijer and whether or not additional faces will be brought in before the window closes in a week. Recent talk has linked Rovers to Sylvian Distin of Man City. That would be a quality signing.
Date:Tuesday January 23 2007
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